Manchester City bounced back as they returned to winning ways with an emphatic 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday.
After their disappointing 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest last week was followed by another in the Champions League at RB Leipzig on Wednesday, City responded with a ruthless performance at the Vitality Stadium.
Goals from Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and a Chris Mepham own goal moved Pep Guardiola’s men back to within two points of Premier League leaders Arsenal after the Gunners beat Leicester City earlier in the day.
Bournemouth pulled a late goal through Jefferson Lerma but slipped to 19th in the table after wins against West Ham and Leeds United against Nottingham Forest and Southampton.
City took the lead in the 15th minute after Rico Lewis won the ball back on the right with a quick attack that saw Haaland hit the crossbar with a deflected effort and Alvarez tapped in the rebound from close range as it fell kindly to him.
It was two just before the half-hour when Ilkay Gundogan’s cross from the left found Foden, who was denied by Jordan Zemura’s last-ditch save, but the ball rolled to Haaland, who slotted home.
The third came just before half-time thanks to a sloppy square pass from Philip Billing that sent the ball onto a plate for Foden to finish past Neto with ease on his 200th City appearance.
City continued to attack in the second half and had a fourth after Foden’s ball from the right was cleared by Marcos Senesi but only to Alvarez who fired past the hapless Mepham.
Lerma struck a consolation high into the net in the 83rd minute after a stretch from the left by Zemura, but City eventually held on for a fine win.
What does it mean? City to remind people what they can do
It’s been a strangely inconsistent season for City by their usual standards, although they finally looked to have taken the lead in the Premier League title race with a 3-1 win at Arsenal earlier this month.
A sloppy draw at Forest gave the initiative back to their rivals, but the nature of this Bournemouth demolition was menacing.
They’ve looked more like City, who score over 90 points every season, and if they can get back to these kind of performances on a regular basis, Arsenal and Manchester United will certainly have their work cut out for them.
Bournemouth player ratings (5-4-1)
GK: Neto – 5/10 – Made a few nice saves but City’s dominance ended up being too much.
RB: Adam Smith – 4/10 – Had a tough time up against Grealish.
CB: Jack Stephens – 4/10 – Run ragged by Haaland and Alvarez. Couldn’t keep up with City at all.
CB: Chris Mepham – 5/10 – Unfortunate to end up with an own goal in what was a respectable individual showing.
CB: Marcos Senesi – 4/10 – A little chaotic as City’s big numbers in attack took their toll.
LB: Jordan Zemura – 4/10 – A few great moments in attack but always seemed to be in the wrong place defensively. No surprise Foden was involved in so many good moments.
RM: Dango Ouattara – 4/10 – Too slow in possession as he failed to keep the pressure up on City’s defence.
CM: Jefferson Lerma – 6/10 – Put himself about well in midfield and thoroughly deserved his goal late on.
CM: Philip Billing – 4/10 – Generally decent but an inexcusable error in these circumstances. Schoolboy mistake against one of the most potent attacks in the world.
LM: Hamed Traore – 5/10 – Had some nice moments in attack but obviously not as involved as he’d like to be.
ST: Dominic Solanke – 4/10 – Can’t fault his effort and he did cause occasional problems.
Ryan Fredericks (59′ for Smith) – 5/10 – Did his best to try and calm things down.
Joe Rothwell (59′ for Billing) – 6/10 – A composed showing.
Jaidon Anthony (76′ for Traore) – 6/10 – Did his best to try and make something happen.
Gary O’Neil – 4/10 – Switching to a five-man defence didn’t work. Clearly focused on damage limitation after the break which also didn’t work. Hard to be too harsh when you’re up against City.
Man City player ratings (3-2-4-1)
GK: Ederson – 6/10 – Busier than he’d have expected to be without ever really being tested.
CB: Manuel Akanji – 7/10 – No dramas at all. Found himself in midfield quite often.
CB: Ruben Dias – 7/10 – Excellent for around 80 minutes but waved a weak leg at the attempt to clear what ended up being Lerma’s late goal.
CB: Nathan Ake – 7/10 – A typically excellent performance from Ake.
DM: Rico Lewis – 7/10 – Really impressed in this midfield role. Great recoveries which led to dangerous chances for City.
DM: Rodri – 7/10 – Controlled the midfield game without needing to get out of second gear. Rested early in the second half with the job already done.
RM: Phil Foden – 9/10 – Did whatever he wanted with ease. Had Zemura on toast as he roared into the box to score and assist.
CM: Ilkay Gundogan – 7/10 – An incredibly influential first half an hour which gradually faded before he was handed an early rest.
CM: Julian Alvarez – 8/10 – Given plenty of freedom to fly forward, Alvarez showed his poacher’s instinct here. The fourth goal was definitely going wide, however.
LM: Jack Grealish – 6/10 – Not Grealish’s most impactful game but he still made sure City kept the pressure up.
ST: Erling Haaland – 7/10 – Back among the goals in what was another hard game for the Norwegian.
Kalvin Phillips (55′ for Rodri) – 5/10 – Some awkward challenges and always felt a little off the pace.
Sergio Gomez (55′ for Gundogan) – 7/10 – Clearly enjoyed the chance to show the world that he isn’t actually a left-back.
Riyad Mahrez (72′ for Grealish) – 6/10 – Limited involvement.
Maximo Perrone (72′ for Haaland) – 7/10 – A classy cameo. Looked comfortable on the ball.
Kyle Walker (80′ for Ake) – 5/10 – Not on the pitch long but didn’t cover himself in glory.
Pep Guardiola – 7/10 – Another weird setup from Guardiola that got the job done. Did well to rest a lot of his big names when the job was clearly done. Needs to figure out how to keep a clean sheet.